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How Does Your Eardrum Work? *

Difficulty
Time Required Short (2-5 days)
*Note: This is an abbreviated Project Idea, without notes to start your background research, a specific list of materials, or a procedure for how to do the experiment. You can identify abbreviated Project Ideas by the asterisk at the end of the title. If you want a Project Idea with full instructions, please pick one without an asterisk.

Abstract

Eardrums are membranes inside your ears that vibrate when sound waves hit them. These vibrations are converted into electrical signals and sent to your brain, which allows you to hear sound. The frequency response of your eardrum, or the range of frequencies that will cause it to vibrate, determines your hearing range. Typical human hearing ranges from about 20 Hz up to 20,000 Hz, although the ability to hear high frequencies typically degrades as you get older. Some other animals can hear much higher frequencies—for example, dogs can hear up to about 45,000 Hz!

You can make a model of your eardrum using a bowl and plastic wrap, as shown in this video:

To turn this activity into a science project, try using a tone generator app or website instead of humming. This will allow you to play tones at a constant frequency to determine the frequency response of your eardrum model. Sweep through a range of frequencies to find out which ones cause the sprinkles to vibrate. Make sure you keep the phone or speakers at a constant volume and distance/orientation relative to the bowl for each frequency. Try changing different variables, like the size or material of the bowl, or the size of the sprinkles (or other granular materials, like salt or rice). How does this change the frequency response?

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Cite This Page

General citation information is provided here. Be sure to check the formatting, including capitalization, for the method you are using and update your citation, as needed.

MLA Style

Science Buddies Staff. "How Does Your Eardrum Work?" Science Buddies, 16 June 2018, https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/Phys_p108/physics/eardrum-sound. Accessed 21 Sep. 2018.

APA Style

Science Buddies Staff. (2018, June 16). How Does Your Eardrum Work? Retrieved from https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/Phys_p108/physics/eardrum-sound


Last edit date: 2018-06-16

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Note: A computerized matching algorithm suggests the above articles. It's not as smart as you are, and it may occasionally give humorous, ridiculous, or even annoying results! Learn more about the News Feed

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